State Senate bills would limit Governor Whitmer’s emergency powers

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LANSING, Mich. (WLNS)– The State Senate will be in session tomorrow to vote on two bills that would limit the governor’s emergency powers.

One bill would repeal the Michigan Emergency Powers of Governor Act 302 of 1945. That act allows the governor to issue a state of emergency until the emergency is cleared, without the consent of the Michigan Legislature.

The other bill would limit the time a governor could unilaterally issue a state of emergency from 28 days to 14 days. This would change the Michigan Emergency Management Act 390 of 1976.

“The legislatures goal is to work in a collaborative effort to have that appropriate balance in power between the governor and the legislature,” said Republican State Senator for the 24th District, Tom Barrett.

Senator Barrett says the governor has taken matters into her own hands during this pandemic and wants her to consult with the State Legislature.

“We are equal branches of government, the governor is not positioned above or before the Legislature, there are checks and balances that exist in our form of government,” said Barrett.

Democratic State Senator for the 23rd District, Curtis Hertel Jr., says this is something that could have waited.

“Going in to play a political game is just sad, to risk our lives, lives of our families, lives of our constituents, for really to accomplish nothing,” said Hertel.

Barrett says he’s also concerned with the governor teaming up with other Midwest governors on how to reopen Michigan’s economy.

“It is absolutely unfair that she would consult a governor from another state over the Legislature of her own state,” said Barrett.

Hertel says he doesn’t believe these bills will help when it comes to the pandemic.

“It’s not about politics, it’s about people, and I understand their frustration,” said Hertel, “but this is not an answer, this is just politics.”

And doesn’t see Governor Whitmer signing any of the bills that will be voted on tomorrow.

“It’s unreasonable to come in, just for a political vote, there’s a zero percent chance, and they know it, that the governor is going to sign her powers away unilaterally, it’s never going to happen,” said Hertel.

If the bills do pass through the Senate and the House then get to the governor’s desk, she has the power to sign or veto them. If they are vetoed, they would go back to the Senate, where a 2/3 vote would be needed for approval.

House Speaker, Lee Chatfield, also announced a bipartisan committee to oversee how the state has responded to Covid-19.

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